Quote of the Day: “What would your parents think?”

“What planet are you from?  Have you no decency?  Would your parents approve?  Would they be proud of you?”  These are questions local developer Carl Paladino asked of Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore in a letter that went out to all local media.

“The part about his parents really got to him,” Carl said.  “But I wasn’t saying anything bad about his parents.  Quite the opposite, I was saying something bad about him.”
The flack stems from Paladino’s outrage over Rumore’s court action to have multiple-carrier insurance reinstated to Buffalo teachers.  Paladino chides Rumore for wanting what he says is an insurance plan, with the same benefits, that will cost the system $15 million more per year.  
The single-carrier negotiated term contract was devised by Superintendent James Williams and the Buffalo Educators Support Team.  Williams celebrated it as a great financial victory for the system that would pay off in savings and more money that could then be spent in the system in order to directly affect the quality of education for the students.
Paladino argues that Rumore’s action adds to the $25,500/per year it costs taxpayers to educate a single student.  “The tuition at Nichols is $15,000 per year,” Paladino wrote.  “We could send all of [the students] to great private schools and set aside $10,000 a year in a college fund for each.  You blame everybody and everything, except yourself.”
Paladino also accuses Rumore of stacking the deck with like-minded school board members, in an election that is voted on by “less than 5 percent of the electorate.”  He goes on to say, “Thank God for the control board.  Without it, you and the collectively incompetent School Board would have driven the last sole out of the City of Buffalo.”
Paladino tells Rumore to take a vacation to “revaluate what you are doing.”  In Paladino’s scathing letter, it’s the reference to his parents that Rumore especially took umbrage at.  See his response, according to Brian Meyer.

About the author  ⁄ Courtney

38 comments
buffaloexpat
buffaloexpat

I have taught math in both urban and suburban schools, and I'd like to briefly address this "all schools teach the same things" misconception. NYS enumerates learning standards for what is traditionally the first three years of high school mathematics - Integrated Algebra (IA), Geometry, and Algebra 2 with Trig. Only the IA regents exam is required for graduation. A total of three math credits is required for graduation. A student is allowed to take that first Algebra class over two years.

Poorly performing urban schools teach a high proportion of low level math courses. Many of their students take 2 years of IA, pass the one required regents because the cutoff score for passing is artificially ridiculously low, and then some other math course (often not rigorous) to graduate. Students who take higher level math are the exception.

At higher performing schools, many, many more students take regents level IA, Geometry, and Algebra 2, pass all three regents exams, most of them also take precalculus, and accelerated students take calculus. A student that only takes the bare minimum described in the previous paragraph is the exception.

The teachers at suburban schools are not better. But the preparation of students and the support they have at home make all the difference in the opportunities we can offer them.

whatever
whatever

Btw, about your other question: the Business First list based on 4 years of objective state test scores do show some non-wealthy WNY districts with academic results ranked a lot higher than their wealth demographics.

So there's not a total correlation to "only" wealth demographics as you are (seem to me to be) saying there is. Should I post what those are?

whatever
whatever

I have no idea whether most people disagree with your opinion, and I don't know why that should matter.

reflip>"So, anyway, yes: the only difference is demographics. Who lives there and how much money do they make."

How about when the NYS Education Dept decides to shut down a school due to them determining it's low quality - like they did for the Stepping Stone Academy a couple years ago?

http://tinyurl.com/stepping-stone-academy-ordered

Are you saying it's impossible for NYS to have made that decision on any reasonable objective basis? There's no such thing as a low quality school for any reason other than demographics?

The state's shut down order was unfair and due only to the school's demographics?

If there is such a thing as a bad school for reasons other than demographics, what are examples of those possible reasons?

And what makes it impossible for those or similar reasons to also apply to a hypothetical school district (which is a set of schools)?

ecogeo
ecogeo

Perhaps there are many that disagree with reflip, but the research on public financing and education mostly agrees.

reflip
reflip

I grew up on Long Island and went to public school there, so the pretense of objectivity is out the window in that example. If anything, I can be completely objective about Buffalo area schools, since I have no connection to any of them in any way.

So, anyway, yes: the only difference is demographics. Who lives there and how much money do they make. The more money in the town, the "better" we think the schools are.

If they have the means, people move to towns where they think their kid will have the best social experience. (That is, they'll meet the kids you want them to meet). That's what this is really about. This nonsense about "better schools" is a exercise in self-delusion. The notion that one public school can be so much better at education than another is a complete and total fallacy. Try this exercise: Name one of the best school districts in WNY. Then name one of the worst (well that's easy - BPS, of course! So, OK, second-worst). Then explain, pedagogically, what makes the good school good and the bad school bad. What do they DO? Why do they do it? How do they do it? What makes them successful. Don't use vague generalizations ("culture of failure"). Use specific, concrete examples.

Until I get some compelling explanation for why I should think otherwise, I will continue to believe that this discussion about "good schools" is nothing more than a code for which town will offer the best social experience for our kids. Given the lackluster nature of public education in general, the social experience is probably more important than the educational experience anyway. The material taught and the methods of instruction are the same virtually anywhere you go.

That's my opinion. Most people disagree with me. Oh well.

whatever
whatever

reflip>"That's the system. The city schools, the suburban schools...they all do the same things. They all operate under the same rules. The only difference is in the demographics"

The "same rules" from the state are only one factor.

Never mind Buffalo for a moment, so we can look at this more objectively. Are you saying in NY state it's impossible for one school system to consistently have better results than another school system of similar demographics? All systems in NYS of similar demographics are the same? All schools of similar demographics are the same? In your words, "The only difference is in the demographics". Seriously?

If you and your spouse decide to move to some other area of NY state some day, say Long Island, won't you when looking for houses investigate which school districts are thought to be better than others? Many people do. Is that assessment affected only by demographics?

whatever
whatever

Blackrocklifer> " "expenditures for general education- these expenditures INCLUDE amounts for instructing pupils with disabilities in a general education setting. also "the total cost of instruction for pupils with disabilities may include BOTH general and special education expenditures". Buffalo, of course has a large number of children with disabilities"

The state web site numbers at least remove special ed.

How much more, if any, Buffalo spends (compared to burbs) per-pupil for disabled students is anyone's guess unless there's some objective source of that information.

There are disabled kids in the burbs too. Also, the state web site lists instructional costs, so things like transportation of disabled kids aren't a factor.

whatever
whatever

Whatever the explanations are, it's not because those suburban districts have higher instructional spending per pupil than Buffalo, as claimed sometimes in blog comments.

Excluding special ed, Clarence spent 14.8% less per pupil than Buffalo in 2006. Williamsville spent 5.5% less than Buffalo.

http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/reportcard/2007/supplement

Orchard Park spent $6,970, 13.9% less than Buffalo's $8,091 per pupil excluding special ed.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Looking at Business First's 2008-09 Schools we find many interesting statistics. Youth poverty rate- Buffalo 31.1%, Orchard Park 4.2%, Williamsville 4.5%, Clarence 4.7%. Eligible for free or reduced price lunch- Buffalo 78%, Orchard Park 5%, Williamsville 7%, Clarence 6%. Know lets compare rankings Buffalo-poorest and lowest ranking(97th), Orchard Park 4th, Williamsville 1st, Clarence 2nd. What a surprise, the richest districts just happen to have the highest ratings, I think it is safe to say poverty is the main factor.

reflip
reflip

My exact words were, "The only difference between a city school and a suburban school is the percentage of students with anti-social behavioral and/or various development learning problems, to use broad, general terms."

Do you have a reading comprehension problem? What I wrote is very clear. Either you understand it or you don't. Nevertheless, I'll humor you and answer your question: No. I do not think the majority of students in the Buffalo Public schools have anti-social personality disorders. Nothing I wrote should have lead you to believe that.

You have certainly made your point clear. No need to restate them. I would say that your stated criticisms of the BPS can be leveled at every single public school board and administrative body in New York State. That's the system. The city schools, the suburban schools...they all do the same things. They all operate under the same rules. The only difference is in the demographics. Why is the BTF any worse than the unionized teachers in Ken-Ton or Orchard Park? NYSUT. They're all the same. Everyone plays by the same rules. Everyone pays into the same system. If you don't get that, then I don't know where else we can go with this "discussion." You have your anti-city view. I have my objective, intelligent view. The twain will not meet.

whynot
whynot

Reflip - Are you saying that the majority of students in the City of Buffalo are suffering from "anti-social behavioral and/or various development learning problems"? (Except the few who are segregated into City Honors or one of the few successful schools in the city. )

So to tack on Blackrocklifer's comments, Anti-social behaviors and various developmental learning problems are the result of poverty? Poverty breeds anti-social behavior and learning disabilities? Are you saying that this is the problem with the City School district?

I have stated before that the Buffalo City Schools suffer from a destructive and overtly negative culture in most of their schools. The faculty, staff, and administration do not believe that students can thrive and succeed in the schools, they pull the best and brightest out early and leave the rest to struggle in mediocrity and the culture of failure. The Buffalo Teacher's Federation members (teachers) are often more concerned with their benefits and being compensated for, as one teacher friend calls it, "being forced to work in hell", than they are for their students. There is far too much in-fighting between the Teachers Federation and the School Board, the Teachers and the Administration, the Administration and the School Board, the Schools and the Parents, the Teachers and the Students, etc, etc, etc. The district suffers from lack of leadership, a deficiency in culture, and a general sense of apathy and ennui. The children do not thrive because no one expects them to thrive, which is a sharp contrast to the culture in many other districts and private schools.

Blaming poverty as the sole or primary cause of the issues with the Buffalo Schools removes the responsibility for improvement from the district.

whynot
whynot

Those schools that include special education still have a lower cost per pupil than those who pay the City School District for special education services.

The 1960s were a much different time than today. The entire dynamic of this region has changed, maybe it is time to revisit this proposition and close the City School District in favor of the more successful suburban schools or neighborhood charter / private / parochial schools.

You said: "Suburban schools are not really more successful, they just don't have to deal with the problems of educating the poorest and most disadvantaged students." - Can you prove that? I look at the facts and figures and it sure looks to me like the suburban schools are more successful, even when comparing like to like students, say those on subsidized lunch / breakfast for example.

Let's look at this another way and compare the City School District with other City School Districts, like Syracuse or Rochester, why are they doing better in State rankings and standards of learning than Buffalo? Aren't they also servicing "the poorest and most disadvantaged students"?

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Statistics are a gauge but not the end all. Reading further we see "expenditures for general education- these expenditures INCLUDE amounts for instructing pupils with disabilities in a general education setting. also "the total cost of instruction for pupils with disabilities may include BOTH general and special education expenditures". Buffalo, of course has a large number of children with disabilities. The costs associated with educating them is also a part of the "expenditure for general education" inflating this number greatly.

whatever
whatever

Blackrocklifer>"We pay more per pupil in Buffalo schools because of the higher costs due to the large number of children requiring special ed (some coming from the suburbs). Remove this cost and the BPS acually spends less per pupil."

Not less than Amherst, Williamsville, Cheektowaga, Hamburg, Clarence, or Rochester, to name a few. The NYS Ed Dept lists every district's per-pupil "general ed" instructional spending - excluding special ed spending. It lists that separately.

2006 (most recent posted) spending for every NYS district here: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/reportcard/2007/supplement

Here's a few. Click link above for any districts and post more if you'd like.

General ed instructional $ per pupil (excluding special ed) 2006:

More than Buffalo: Yonkers $10801, NY City $9526, Syracuse $8275, Ken-Ton $8223

Buffalo: $8091

Less than Buffalo: Amherst Central $7843, Williamsville $7649, Cheektowaga Central $7360, Hamburg $7336, Rochester $7334, Clarence $6894

Clarence and Williamsville spent 14.8% and 5.5% less than Buffalo, receptively. Rochester and Hamburg each spent 9.4% less than Buffalo.

Special ed spending for students sent from another district is funded by the district where he or she lives. Burbs don't drive up Buffalo's special ed costs.

reflip
reflip

"Is the BCS not responsible at all for the mess that the district is in, or is it just the big bad wealthy suburbs?"

That's idiotic. All public schools in New York State teach the same material in mostly the same ways. All the teachers go through the same prep programs, take the same tests and get accredited by the same body (New York State). For the most part, all the teachers went to the same area colleges and learned the same stuff. They are all required by New York State to teach the same stuff and operate schools in similar manners. The only difference between a city school and a suburban school is the percentage of students with anti-social behavioral and/or various development learning problems, to use broad, general terms.

If there is something inherently wrong with the Buffalo public schools, would you tell us what it is? You must know, otherwise you wouldn't make the accusation. What do they do wrong that makes them "responsible for the mess they're in"? What "best practices" do the suburbs (all of them? independently of one another?!?! Did all the suburbs in America have a meeting and not invite all the cities?) have that the city schools can't seem to figure out?

The notion that Buffalo Public schools (or, all urban school districts in America) are inherently flawed but suburban schools have figured out the secret to effective public education is a crutch of the uncritical mind. But hey, most people don't bother to think critically about anything. That's the hallmark of modern public education.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

We pay more per pupil in Buffalo schools because of the higher costs due to the large number of children requiring special ed (some coming from the suburbs). Remove this cost and the BPS acually spends less per pupil. As for your suggestion to send city kids to the suburbs, this idea was proposed in the late 1960's and met with a firestorm of suburban opposition. Suburban schools are not really more successful, they just don't have to deal with the problems of educating the poorest and most disadvantaged students.

whynot
whynot

City Honors is the exception, it is the one BCS High School out of 12 that performs consistently on par or above other area schools. Hutch Tech and DaVinci are following the same model by weeding out the best and brightest and leaving the rest to flounder in the same pool of mediocrity and failure that plagues the rest of the district High Schools.

If the problem with the BCS is limited to poverty, then will bringing in more people from the suburbs reverse the BCS's current course of failure? Is the BCS not responsible at all for the mess that the district is in, or is it just the big bad wealthy suburbs?

We pay more per pupil in Buffalo than the suburbs do, we pay our teachers more, we have better benefits, yet our schools are still failing, our best teachers are leaving for suburban schools, and our best students are either quarantined from the rest of the students or their families do what they can to put them someplace that is more successful.

Poverty is a factor, but it is not the only or even primary cause of failure. A wealthier population would demand better schools, but it would not change the culture of failure that is pervasive among many students who attend Buffalo City Schools. If we were to take the poor students from the city and distribute them throughout the suburban schools, we would see many of them thrive, without a change in economic status. Those who did not thrive would receive attention and services that are lacking in quality within the Buffalo City Schools, yet seem to be effective in the suburban districts. Maybe that is the answer, let's close the Buffalo Schools and rely on the more successful suburban schools to educate our children. This way all students will receive a decent education regardless of their economic status. Will that work??

assaroni
assaroni

doing well in school is not "Cool" among minorities...but rather doing drugs and getting pregnant at 16 is the norm because most of the mothers did it in the 80's and 90's and now their kids are following down the same path...welfare pays more for more kids

neal1919
neal1919

Remember Rumore went to jail for breaking the Taylor law - teachers and other public employees were given binding arbitration in exchange for not striking - but old Phil wanted it both ways - he got the arbitration (which he used in this insurance issue) but still went on strike - he would rather break the law and go to jail than lead a great and progressive school system. Go Carl Go - a voice that is not afraid to speak up!

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

City Homors is not "the exception", Huch Tech and DaVinci are also on par with suburban high schools. You say "poverty is a factor" I say poverty is THE factor. And yes there are students who live in poverty that do well but sadly they are the "exception". The problems of poor city school districts are the same all over America. As long as poor people are concentrated in cities and out of sight of the more affluent there is no incentive to bring the kind of change necessary to give all children the right to a decent education.

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

In this economy, the thought of abolishing public education no longer seems so remote...

assaroni
assaroni

a Masters in Education is not nearly as difficult or as valuable as an MBA

whynot
whynot

Skim the best and brightest from the rest of the flock, isolate them in their own school, and give them the best teachers that the city has, and only then do you come close to the level of education that is offered to every student in the suburbs. City Honors is the exception to a horrible system. One high school that offers an average or above average education, while the others are installing metal detectors.

The Buffalo Teacher's pay and benefits is a matter of public record, as is the average salaries and benefits for all other public schools in WNY. If you recall someone posted a comparison on BRO last year that showed the Buffalo Teachers were making far more in salary and had far more lucrative benefits than other area school districts. The Williamsville, Amherst, Orchard Park, and Clarence Districts have all gone to employee run benefits from a single provider. They do not cover cosmetic surgery, etc.

The real issue with the Buffalo Public Schools is the Buffalo Public Schools, that includes the teachers. Poverty is a factor, but there are many students who live in poverty who attend City Honors or who do well in suburban schools, yet they struggle to pass in the main stream Buffalo Public Schools. Why is that?

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

"the best and brightest have fled the city" I think not, City Honors has repeatedly been named best school in WNY and one of the best in the country. I agree the teachers should accept single payer health insurance but the pay and perks are just as lucrative in the suburbs yet rarely do we here criticism of the teachers there. Scapegoating teachers is just a diversion from facing the real problem in Buffalo schools, concentration of poverty.

buffalofalling
buffalofalling

The union system in this state sucks. No one denies it, particularly those of us eanring an honest buck everyday with no assurances of work tomorrow.

However, it's a two way street. Everyone here slams the unions and blames them (I'm a major critic myuself) but the reality is every single elected official in this state has a union endorsement of some kind. The teachers get a bad rap because, and I don't get this, the population as a whole thinks they should be selfless and altruistic all the time despite the required masters degrees. That they should work for a penance. I'm not saying their poor, but if you take the job reqs into the private sector, a masters delivers a much higher return so something should be said about those commiting to an advanced degree. Summers off equal out the equation I guess.

But here's the problem. You expect them to give back all the time and aim at them and you have a school board like Buffalo's unwilling to take the appropriate measures (metal detectors) to protecty teachers. So why would they give into to contact concessions when they're disrespected like that?

Meanwhile, if you want to close on a new house at the county clerk's office downtown, you have to go through a metal detector.

What really sucks is that poor socio-economic conditions are positively correlated to crime. Poor socio-economic are correlational to education. Therefore, an increase educational attainment would contribute to a reduction in crime.

But in NYS, all politicians sell you the idea that more cops equal less crime. We'll see how that works in these economic times. Crime will go up despite more cops. And by the ways, cops don't prevent crime and firefighters don't prevent fire. They costly reactionary measures.

Proof that the electorate is buying whatever is being sold: next time a local politician is on the campaign trail, list to how much he/she talks about crime and fire and how they never mention education.

Did Buffalo's mayor mention fire or cop data or faccts today in his state of the city? Did he mention quality education?

assaroni
assaroni

why you racist Paulbuffalo?

assaroni
assaroni

i have new boobs and hair plugs!!! awesome!!! this city rocks!

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

And to think that they get you as a neighbor. How honored they must be.

assaroni
assaroni

My neighbor on Linwood is a teacher for the last 12 years...she just got a brand new Boob job(they're nice) and she has a tummy tuck after she kicked out 5 kids....she loves being a teacher...

Not to mention my other neighbor who is a cop and he just had Hair Transplant surgery done on our dime, and he pops Viagra on our dime too.... No wonder they all fight for these jobs!

Perry
Perry

Go Carl go!!! I luv it.

nick
nick

sbrof,

My arguement isn't really with what Paladino says, its more for people who say that teachers don't care about results, I'm sure there are some that don't, but that blanket statement is not at all what I experience in my life and I have many friends and relatives who are retired or currently are teachers and they're all dedicated professionals.

sbrof
sbrof

nick, she sounds exactly like the person that Carl is trying to get at. The older entrenched union members are not looking out for the betterment of the students. Otherwise as teachers they would understand that 40 MILLION DOLLARS could be going into the schools, into programs to help those kids with their problems.

But instead they fight for the status quo... They fight to put an already crippled system farther down the hole. For what... What is the benefit of multiple health insurance carriers? Nothing. You are going to be a top notch insurance package no matter what carrier it is with.

Other unions have done it, the Inspections department and whatever union they are in has done it but the big three continue to do exactly what Paladino says, hold the city hostage. I am not a huge Paladino fan but I also think he makes some valid points in his arguments about the school district.

onestarmartin
onestarmartin

Good for Carl. I am all for teachers having health benefits for illness etc, but full coverage for cosmetic surgery? I think not.

nick
nick

"The teachers fight for the perks of the job without an concern for the quality of services provided or how effetive they are at teaching our students."

Really, they don't care about teaching the students? They spent the money to get graduate degrees and certifications just to make that great coin? Make sure to tell that to my gf who comes home and cries about not being able to teach her students because they come to school with so many problems. I'm sure those are tears of joy for her great pay and benefits.

oldwaiter
oldwaiter

It's about time that someone has spoken up against the Buffalo School system. It is shameful how it is run. Carl is right, "Have they no decency?" It's time for a change!

whynot
whynot

The Buffalo Teacher's Federation is concerned about getting the best deal for the teachers. This is the main goal and primary concern of the BTF, the cost of benefits to the residents and the quality of education received by students are secondary concerns. When you talk to teachers, they spew the same rhetoric about being understaffed to provide services, under supported by administration, and dealing with students that they are unable to educate. The teachers fight for the perks of the job without any concern for the quality of services provided or how effective they are at teaching our students.

This is one of the biggest issues that the city faces. The root cause may be that the best and brightest students have fled the city for the suburbs or are in private schools, but there are many options that are not being addressed due to the apathy of the teachers.

crc
crc

Good for Carl. It's about time someone with a loud voice stands up against this bloated, antiquated conglomerate.

Oh, that's right. The BTF is for the kids... :/

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